When someone makes a claim that a singular event will change the trajectory of a presidential race, most of the time they are overreacting. The same is probably true about Sunday’s terrorist attack in Orlando.
Still, the horrific shooting demonstrated just how different the two leading presidential candidates are – especially in the midst of a national tragedy.
While Hillary Clinton reacted responsibly and repeatedly called for unity following the tragedy, Donald Trump was quick to pat himself on the back for “being right” about the terror threat.
As NBC reported on Monday, it’s not the first time Trump has responded to a terrorist attack by congratulating himself. He tweeted similar sentiments following the horrific events in Paris, San Bernardino, and Brussels.
Clinton, on the other hand, took a more measured response – one we would expect from a president.
As The Atlantic pointed out, “Following the massacre in Orlando, the presumptive Democratic nominee seemed to step into a presidential role.”
On Sunday, Clinton tweeted out, “Woke up to hear the devastating news from FL. As we wait for more information, my thoughts are with those affected by this horrific act.”
Her initial reaction was followed by the news that she would cancel her first big campaign rally with President Obama which was scheduled to take place on Wednesday in Green Bay, WI.
Clinton did attend a scheduled campaign event in Cleveland, Ohio, but scaled back the politics, taking the podium without any music or other typical fanfare.
“Today is not a day for politics,” the former Secretary of State said.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, threw gasoline on the fire of tragedy, sprinting to Fox News this morning to declare, “It’s war, it’s absolute war!”
He spent much of the day attacking Clinton and even suggested that President Obama is actively helping terrorists – a ridiculous claim by your drunk uncle, but outright disqualifying coming from the presumptive nominee of a major political party.
The aftermath of terror attacks is never the time to play politics – it should be a time for national unity, as the presumptive Democratic nominee said today. But it has also given us a glimpse of how each of these candidates would react during a national tragedy.
Clinton passed that test; Trump failed miserably.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.